Saadat Hasan Manto was a great writer, author, and playwright of Indo-Pakistani origin. He is one of the most renowned writers of short stories in the South-Asian history. Short stories by Manto are counted as golden work in literature, Whenever one thinks about short stories in Urdu, the name Manto appears first in mind. He was born in Paproudi village of Samrala, in the Ludhiana district of the Punjab in a Muslim family and later shifted to Pakistan at the time of partition of India. He was a daring writer who dared to speak about taboo subjects like prostitution through his writings. In India as well as in Pakistan, he was charged with obscenity. Despite this, he continued writing and in his defense, he proclaimed that his writings are nothing but a mirror of society and if people find dirt in his write-ups, it means that the society is contaminated and not his written accounts. Here we present you 15 amazing short stories by Manto.
#1 Thanda Ghosht
Saadat Hasan Manto penned this story in 1950. This was the story about a Sikh man who was killed by his mistress. It was about a man who took part in the riots between Hindu and Muslim community in India. He killed a Muslim family which had six men and tried to rape a dead girl from the same clan. Her mistress suspected him of infidelity and forcefully made him confess the crime he did. Unable to bear the cuckoldry which her beloved committed, she attacked him with the same dagger and he eventually died.
#2 Kaali Shalwaar
This is one of the most loved short stories by Manto. It was written in the year 1961. The story underlined the life of a prostitute who moved from Ambala to Delhi and was unable to get her job done. She finds it difficult to survive in the city. During the time of crisis, she meets a man who pretends to be a being of truthfulness. How the same man broke her trust is explained in a very beautiful and satirical way which lays emphasis that the world is full of lies and frauds.
There are many Manto books and Manto short stories! But this romantic story holds a special place in hearts of his readers. This story was about a boy who falls for a girl who used to live in the same building where the boy resided. Since the girl used to wear ‘burqa’ (body covering garment worn by girls) and there were three of them, the boy got confused and proposed the wrong girl through his love-letters. This was published in one of Manto’s books in 1955.
Saadat Hasan very beautifully depicted the attraction of eyes. The story is based on a real-life incident that happened with Manto. The author fell in love with the eyes of a girl who he met at the hospital only to find out later that she was blind.
To what limit one can sympathize with a physically disabled people? Is there boundaries that exist when one decides to do whatever it takes to empathize such people. In this story, a married boy named ‘Shafqat’ feels so much pity for a physically enabled girl that he starts thinking of marrying her despite being married. This is one of those short stories by Manto where he digs deeper into complexities of human emotions.
A strange yet interesting story about a young guy who felt soiled and dirty about his own feelings after he falls for a girl. This narrative of Saadat Hasan Manto very carefully describes the feelings of young blood when he sees a girl enjoying the rain. How this beautiful time lays a foundation for something he would hate in future is what this story portrays.
#7 Ab Aur Kehne Ki Zaroorat Nahi
Most short stories by Manto are around the partition of 1947. But having said that, it is not necessary that all of his stories are dark and painful. This is the story that lays emphasis on humanity, love, and hope. A tale which features that humanity is above everything.
Two sisters always share the special bond! What happens when one is perceived beautiful and other ugly by the outer world? Two sisters, Hamida and Sajida, are tested by fate in this short story. Narrated by RJ Sayema, real beauty, and its meaning is captured beautifully in this story.
This short story by Manto showcases the helplessness of a female in a society of patriarch. A society that judges woman at each step of her life. Aulad is story about Zubeda whose mind and normal life is ruined by a simple thought. Does a married woman who cannot reproduce does not have any other identity?
#10 Tobha Tek Singh
One of the most popular short stories by Manto, Tobha Tek Singh is a very heart-touching and emotional story about people with psychiatric issues. After partition, the decision was made that psychiatric hospital patients will be transferred to India or Pakistan based on their religion. Sad but true that the partition of 1947 did not spare people who needed care and not problems and pain.
#11 Khol Do
This story tells the agony and pain of a father whose daughter goes missing when their train to Pakistan is attacked by rioters. He seeks the help of social workers who had been helping re-unite families. The father does find his daughter but she had been violated by the same people whom her father had trusted. One of the most controversial short stories by Manto, khol do depicts the violence faced by women during the partition.
A little boy with all his innocence asks his father why people are shouting and why airplanes are doing rounds on a daily basis. Touched and heartbroken by his son’s queries his father does his best to placate and hide the harsh realities that were unfolding during the dark time of riots and violence in the country.
#13 Khuda Ki Kasam
Like other short stories by Manto, this story is also set within the backdrop of India-Pakistan partition. It gives us a glimpse of the horrific situations people went through after loosing their dear one. Khuda ki Kasam is about a mother who looses her mental balance after her daughter goes missing.
#14 Do Quomein
How love was crushed under the boundaries of community and religion is the crux of this narrative. A Hindu girl, Sharda and a Muslim boy, Mukhtar fall in love but are separated by religion.
#15 Sadak Ke Kinaare
After reading this short story you will realize that how we have not progressed. Sadak ke Kinaare is about a woman who gets pregnant before marriage. How she has to face the wrath of the merciless world. How she is to be blamed and not the father of the child.
Listen to popular short stories by Manto on YouTube.